Are Chimneys Subject to Winter Damage?

October 7, 2021

No matter how well-built your chimney is, the reality is that, over time, the bricks and mortar that make up the chimney will suffer from weather-related damage. Even newer chimneys can show damage if they’re not maintained well. The clearest signs are things like broken bricks, holes and cracks.

Let’s look at how winter chimney damage occurs and what you can do about it.

Cold weather problems

Bricks are made out of porous material and will absorb water. Water may also seep into cracks in the mortar, which are caused by a house settling. During the winter, any water that gets in is liable to freeze, putting pressure on everything surrounding it; then it thaws and melts. Repeating this freeze-thaw cycle is likely to result in damage and deterioration of the mortar and bricks.

This damage is referred to as a process called spalling. It’s the same thing that damages concrete sidewalks, driveways and roads.

Signs of winter chimney damage

Look for the following warning signs in your chimney:

  • Bricks are loose or missing
  • The chimney crown or mortar joints have cracks
  • The chimney’s masonry is beginning to crumble

Deterioration may set in if these initial signs aren’t addressed. Any of the following is a sign that things are going wrong with your chimney:

  • A white, powdery substance collecting on the outside of the chimney
  • Staining on the interior walls or ceiling near the fireplace
  • Broken flue tiles collecting in the firebox
  • Bad smells emanating from the fireplace as a result of too much moisture in the flue

Without sufficient winter chimney maintenance, your chimney can become a safety hazard. The structural damage may result in bricks falling and cause a hazardous flue clog. If you’ve noticed any spalling damage, be sure to check the flue for blockage. Additional water leaks will also need to be addressed with sometimes costly repairs.

The winter chimney maintenance every homeowner should invest in

If you notice that your chimney is suffering from any damage, it’s time to call in the professionals. When they’re able to address a problem early on, it will cost you less time and likely mean that you can salvage your chimney.

When parts of the mortar or brick are crumbling, then professionals must do tuck-pointing. This fills in any cracks or open areas with new mortar, renewing the chimney’s strength.

Scheduling annual chimney inspections may help you avoid some of these long-term problems. Trained technicians have the experience and equipment to deal with a range of chimney damage. It isn’t only masonry issues that can result in water damage—this could also be a missing chimney cap or corroded flashing around the chimney’s base.

For the leaders in the field, turn to the pros at Langenfeld Masonry & Concrete. We’ve been in the business for five generations, building our skills and expertise. Our technicians have done it all, and no job is too big or too small. Find out how we can help you with expert chimney services along with retaining walls and so much more. Call us right now to get a free estimate.

Categorised in:

Langenfeld Masonry & Concrete